Pro Se Mother Wins TPR Appeal

The record shows that on March 30, 2010, the trial court denied an identical petition to terminate her parental rights filed by the Children and Families. Principles of collateral estoppel dictate therefore that only such conduct as may have occurred between that date and the January 10, 2011 filing of the present petition may be considered. See Donahue v. Davis, 68 So.2d 163 (Fla.1953); Gordon v. Gordon, 59 So.2d 40 (Fla.1952); Gray v. Gray,91 Fla. 103 (Fla.1923).

Our examination of the record shows beyond question that no valid grounds for termination occurred during that time. Indeed, it demonstrates that the only change in the very favorable circumstances of the mother, including her successful efforts to break her drug dependency, to secure and hold full-time employment and to find a satisfactory home, was an arrest for an alleged offense which was later nolle prossed, and as to the circumstances of which there was no evidence, but which caused her to miss a single parenting class, part of a case plan which was otherwise fully complied with. Obviously, this far from justifies the termination of her parental rights.

D.C. v. Department of Children and Families, — So.3d —-, 2012 WL 716127 (Fla. 3rd DCA 2012).

 

As predicted, the fathers’ TPRs were affirmed and the pro se mother’s TPR was reversed.  (There was no mention of one-parent TPR findings or why the fathers’ rights needed to be terminated if the mother’s weren’t.)  The seemingly strict application of collateral estoppel in the case doesn’t sit well with me, but that’s for another post.

 

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